“When I retire, I don’t want to see the wine writing profession wither away.”
That was one of the many provocative things that Robert Parker said before–get this–a room of wine writers (which prompted some chortles on twitter about new career paths). Granted, wine writing and journalism more generally have changed since Parker was at his peak. But the après-Parker era will not be one of silence; indeed, diversity of opinion is now the norm.
Well, I have just what you need over on foodandwine.com. I put together a list of 16 wine people (“infulencers”) worth following on Twitter. Clearly, there are many more, but this is a good start.
Check it out and excellent graphics, typical of the excellent work by the folks at F&W. Hit the comments with your suggestions of good folks to follow. Also, what do you hope to get out of wine on Twitter?
There’s an excellent story on Gary Vaynerchuk in Sunday’s NYT business section. Gary left Wine Library and WLTV couple of years ago to start a firm providing social media marketing and–surprise!–he’s bringing his trademark thunder to his new field. Vaynermedia now employs 290 people and has a list of top companies as clients. Congratulations to Gary–it seems he is well on his way to his dream of owning the NY Jets.
We haven’t checked in here with wine and social media for a while, so it’s worth discussing. Wineries seem the most ham-fisted at social media. While some interactions between wineries and consumers seem possible and natural, many more seem forced. If I tweet about a wine I had recently, do I really want the winery giving me virtual high fives? No, that would seem like trolling. Similarly, if a winery simply retweets every tweet mentioning their wines, why should a consumer follow them? Wineries face the crucial problem that while a consumer may be into wine in general, the consumer may not really have an allegiance to one wine/winery, especially on social media. More often than not, it’s the people behind the wineries (such as Jeremy Seysses or Randall Grahm) who have better tweets than an official winery account, which too often seem blatantly commercial and gains little traction.
Wine shop staff can use social media to great effect, as Wine Library TV illustrated. But if all they offer is a stream of tweets or updates relating to prices it can get dull, even if they have a deal of the day, which you will rarely see from a winery. And shops have the ability in many states to hold events in-store, which can mean free tastings. Or shops can offer links to stories about wines they stock or otherwise engage in intelligent conversation. Wine bars and restaurants also seem better suited to the medium than wineries as sommeliers such as Patrick Cappiello or Michael Madrigale have shown.
As the NYT article points out, social media advertising can be self-defeating: if a model proves successful, it will be imitated ad nauseam, which will eventually annoy the hell out of everyone who will leave the platform.
What do you think: is a blend of social media and the wine biz impossible or essential? Who does it best on the whole, wineries, wine shops, or wine bars/restaurants?
There’s an interview with importer Kermit Lynch in yesterday’s NYT magazine. It’s worth clicking on just to see the view from his deck in Provence–it becomes easy to understand grafting on a career that would take you back there as often as possible!
The interviewer sets Lynch up as the anti-Parker in a lot of ways. Lynch remarks:
I’ve read so many times that Parker’s great secret or invention or whatever — his route to fame and power — was that 100-point scoring system. I always thought it was his writing. He’s great at expressing his enthusiasm. You want to feel that way yourself: I want to get all excited!
While Parker’s lasting influence definitely will be popularizing points, I agree with Lynch that Parker’s notes have conveyed an infectious enthusiasm over the years. In his heyday, Parker could get people revved up about a wine even if a “balls to the walls zinfandel” might not exactly be what they wanted. Today, many tasting notes are precious, fanciful or or merely anodyne addenda that readers skip on their way to skimming scores (if that is their wont). It’s hard to write good tasting notes, especially when reviewing a group of wines form the same region or vintage that are broadly similar. And Parker’s descriptors were often limited or repetitive. But because notes are fundamentally conveying an opinion rather than fact, Lynch is right to underscore Parker’s enthusiasm, which often appears lost today under hints of marzipan and toasty vanilla.
I’m doing a series of micro-pieces over at FoodandWine.com in a space they’re calling “Dr. Vino’s Verdict.” I can’t promise the wisdom of Solomon but hopefully the verdicts are better than those of Judge Judy. So far I’ve weighed in a few topics, such as the the fastest way to chill wines, how to save leftover wine for free, and which corkscrew offers the most bang for the buck.
The magazine has commissioned original art for each post and I can unabashedly say (since I had nothing to do with it) that the art is fantastic.
They have very good folks contributing wine posts to their enhanced wine coverage; the best ways to keep up with it, should you care to, is to sign up for the weekly email “The Wine List” or follow them on Twitter.
Factions in France, a country whose national image has historically been intertwined with wine, are waging a bizarre campaign against wine. They opened a new front in their battle last week: trying to ban blogs and social media from talking about wine.
The initiative, part of a report from Professor Michel Reynaud with the cheery name “Damage related to addictions and strategies for reducing the damage,” would seek to limit promotion of wine in the internet, extending and updating the 1991 Evin law. Winery websites would be exempt but Decanter has a summary; the full report is available in full as pdf here.
“We need to formally ensure that no media about alcohol can be aimed at young people, or potentially seen by young people, including the internet (except producer sites) and social networks,” Reynaud writes on p. 56.
Clearly, this is absurd. Not being able to discuss wine at all also means not being able to discuss how to consume wine in moderation or with food. Or its role in history, culture and economics. Or its plant biology, making it a forbidden fruit. The report is out of step with discussion on the internet, unenforceable, and is as boneheaded as it is blunt in its proposals.
Fortunately, an effort with a petition has emerged, called “Touche Pas a Mon Vingernon.”
Want to buy a five-pack of Bordeaux wines that Robert Parker scored 100 points? Given the proliferation of 100-point wines these days, that’s not the hardest thing to come anymore. No, the ne plus ultra now is a five-pack of RP 100s, sold as a signed set by Robert Parker!
SudOuest has the full story (picked up en anglais over at wine-searcher). Suffice it to say that the five-packs don’t include Haut Brion and Petrus. Interestingly, the negociant who put it together said that this would not have been possible before Robert Parker sold a substantial stake in the Wine Advocate late last year to Singaporean investors. The negociant didn’t reveal the details of this autographing arrangement, but said there was no commercial angle to the transaction.
No photo was available of the five-packs, so we run one of KISS, who similarly cashed in on autographed items. What will be the next in the Robert Parker line? Stemware by Christmas? After all, Suckling already beat him to that one. Maybe there will be some signed Ralph Nader memorabilia for old times’ sake.